Thursday, September 29, 2011

School days

Prakash was his grandmother's pet and thus immune to a lot of chastising and house-hold chores.
He had time to spend. He enjoyed reading books variously called Naubatan and Kissse depending on the length of the story.
Naubat was a full length novel and  a kissa was a short story.
In the village school there was a Britsh teacher for English. Urdu was taught by a local master.
There were no other languages taught. So typically all people who went to school in North India in the 1940s or thereabout  can read and write English and Urdu excellently but have no knowledge of the Devnagri script or Gurmukhi (Hindi and Punjabi).
Stories of magic and the exploits of  detectives ( jasoos) abounded, ready to catch impressionable teenagers like Prakash and hold them in their sway, forever and ever.
An interesting tit bit is that mischief makers from the extended family would deliberately press story books into the hands of young boys. Hoping to make them read these and become addicted to them, thus wasting their time and  failing the school exams. All this so that they did not become TOO GOOD for the others. Some logic!
At least the grandmother thought that all were jealous of her handsome strapping grandson and would try to lead him astray.
Lead astray they did but only to land him in the British Army.....that is another story.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Stolen Horse-ride

The year was 1940, the place was a remote village in Punjab.
 Twelve year old Prakash was roaming around in his fields supposedly guarding them from the stealers of grain.
 He loved riding horses and never gave up an opportunity to beg/borrow/steal a ride on any horse that he found unattended.
His father was sitting on a cot under a tree near the well (Khooh) in the middle of their fields.
 Rak rode up on his newly purchased mare, a sprightly young animal with a shiny new rope. He got down to talk to Prakash’s father and to rest awhile. He tied the rope of the mare to the ‘paind ‘at the foot of the string bed to keep her close and safe. Soon he was lying stretched on the cot and fell asleep.
Prakash saw the opportunity to indulge his passion for speed, stole up to the cot and untied the mare from the paind at the risk of premature discovery and sure- shot thrashing. He  tied a ‘khabbi’ to her mouth and jumped up onto its bare back, riding away even as the owner was startled awake and started shouting,” Pachha ghorhi le gaya” (Prakash has taken my horse away).
His father turned to see him streaking away at a break-neck speed. He shouted to ask him to get back pronto but to no avail.
Prakash rode the horse fast and furious over and across the fields till both he and the horse were breathless with exertion.
He rode back to the well (khooh), and jumped off before the mare had come to a stop.
He ran home and went straight to his grandmother and hid under her bed clothes.
She knew of his penchant to get into trouble and asked him what he had done this time (“ Namea nimia hun ki kar ke aaya hain?”.
He told her about his escapade and that father was hot on his heels to thrash him for having stolen the ride and embarrassed him in front of a village man.
The grandmother promised him protection from her son. She also told him that he should not have done it but now that he had he should tell her about the ride.
Proud grandmother and errant grandson then excitedly shared the story of this adventure, the beauty of the horse and its speed.
She made good her promise and did not let her son thrash him even though he warned her that this trouble maker who had scant respect for propriety will come to grief and it will be due to her encouragement and protection of his wild ways. 
Thus ended one adventure filled day.

Eighteenth chapter of Gita

Gita is the compilation of Arjuna’s questions and Krishna’s answers in the battlefield of Mahabharta.
It is the distillation of spirituality and answers basic questions about the cycle of life and death and the hidden logic behind seemingly illogical nature.
The reading of Gita is supposed to wash away all sins and lead to peace and enlightenment.
Daddy is reading Gita, in an Urdu version published some 50 years ago by Chatur singh of Mai sewa Bazar, Amritsar.
It begins by introducing the dramatis personae and how God appeared to destroy ‘Adharma’ in Dwapar Yug. It then tells the story of Krishna’s birth and times.
The other day he read the eighteenth chapter of Gita that is widely believed to be the sure shot way to attain Moksha after this life is complete.
He formally dedicated the fruit of this reading to his wife, my mother.
Did you notice I said, ‘when life is complete..’?
This is how Death is described in Punjab. “Poori ho gayi hai” literally means,” she is complete”. This means she has passed away/died/expired/ is no longer alive.
This is profound. What a simple way to describe the inevitable. The Universal truth of death.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Life after ....

Life is cruel so that it can be kind.
It makes sure you get hungry and have other pressing things happening around the space where you are mourning. This ensures you don't sit and grieve to the exclusion of everything else.
There are guests in the house who have come to be a part of the last rites. They have to be housed and fed.
There are helpers and servants who have to be supervised so that the normalcy of a running household is restored.
All of this makes you think about what you have to do and moves you away from the deep, heart breaking hurt that you have.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Some pics

My Mommy

My mummy was/is/will/ always be larger than life.
Well, I am sure all kids feel the same way. So what is new.
Just that I loved her very very much and never ever wanted her to die and leave me feeling like this.
 See I am talking about how I was worried about how I will feel. Typically like a kid who wants his/her mommy to always be there because this makes the entire world right.
All worries, tensions fears are soothed by a mother's loving hand on the head, light touch on the back. She says, " Go on. Go on now. It is all right" and this makes us bold and ready to take on the world.
She celebrated her 66th marriage anniversary a day before she succumbed to the massive heart attack on August 31, 2011.
Every time I had parted from her, in the recent years I left her with, "Mummy marna mat" (Mummy don't die).
Macabre though it was, I wanted to see her again and meet her, hug her one more time and thought that she will always be there.
Well this time she was not.
We spent a wonderful seven days together just two weeks ago. My sister and I (sans husbands) with our parents, in our parental house. Sibling rivalry and all. It was back to our childhood with me the Miss Two goodie shoes (as my daughter enlightened me later). It was no holds barred. I had to be the favourite child (period) by hook or by crook. 
Yesterday, I hugged her for the last time and kissed her knowing full well that I will never be able to do this again.
I have so much to write about her but don't know what to say and what to keep back. so till I am more sorted,  "Mommie I did not want you to go. Why did you? Couldn't you have lived forever?"